Tuesday, June 30, 2009


(a) 1 3/4 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1/2 oz Cardamom Simple Syrup
(b) 1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
Lemon Twist

Stir ingredients in (a) with ice. Add Chartreuse to rocks glass and ignite. Twist the lemon rind over the fire and drop in to caramelize. Douse the flame after 15 seconds by straining (a) over the top of (b). Serve, but let rocks glass cool before drinking.

For one of my cocktails at Drink on Sunday night, John Gertsen made me his variation on the Star Cocktail that he dubbed the Supernova. The Star Cocktail first appeared in George Kappeler's Modern American Drinks in 1895. The recipe is as follows:
Star Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Apple Brandy
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes Peychaud's or Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Gomme Syrup

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Gertsen's variation kept the basic gist of the Star Cocktail but changed the nonpotable bitters, brandy to vermouth ratio, and syrup type. However, the major change was the green Chartreuse which altered the flavor greatly, and indeed, the flame certainly added to the showmanship aspect immensely. In the drink, the Chartreuse flavors mingled with the Carpano Antica vermouth and the bitters quite nicely, and the flamed lemon twist added a slight burnt caramel nose. All of these flavors were riding on top of an orange bitters-less Marconi Wireless base. Andrea commented that the Supernova tasted "candied but not cloying", and I would have to agree that the balance of this drink was right on the money.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

chatham hotel special

1 1/2 oz Brandy (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Ruby Port (Ramos Pinto)
1/2 oz Cream
1 dash Dark Creme de Cacao

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

On Saturday, we stopped into the Boston Shaker's store in Somerville and spotted the newest edition of Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. We were going to wait until Tales to buy it from Ted and get it autographed on the spot, but the book was just too tempting to pass on it. The new edition appears to be double the size with more recipes, photos, and text than the first. That night, I was searching for a recipe that was new to this edition, but I was captivated by the concept of the Chatham Hotel Special as an after dinner drink. The Hotel Chatham was a 300 room hotel in midtown Manhattan, and bar there was most famous for being the birthplace of the Moscow Mule recipe before the drink made its way to the West Coast and became popular in Los Angeles. The Chatham Hotel Special had a rich grapey sweetness from the port and brandy, and the hint of cacao worked well with the port flavors. The smoothness of the drink was kept in check by the booziness of the brandy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

ancient mariner

3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Pimento Dram (St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram)
1 oz Demerara Rum (Lemon Hart 80 Proof)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Appleton 12 Year)

Shake with ice and strain into a double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig.

I was really excited when I picked up my mail on Friday and discovered that my copy of Beachbum Berry's Grog Log had arrived. It was a book I had wanted for some time now, and sure Amazon and Half.com vendors had copies, but it did not seem worth the $100 a copy they were asking. When I heard news earlier in the week on Chowhound that it and Intoxica would be republished, I checked on Amazon. Amongst their overpriced used copies was a single new one for cover price (and as of today there are 7!) and I snatched it up immediately. When I opened up the book and flipped to the recipe section, I saw the first one, the Ancient Mariner, and knew that I had to start there.

The Ancient Mariner is one of Jeff Berry's original creations. The drink was a lot drier than expected given the recipe and especially given the genre of tiki drinks in general. Moreover, it had a nice spice level from the pimento dram, even at a quarter of an ounce, to complement the rich flavors of the rums and the light bite of the citrus. And judging from how fast Andrea drained hers, it was a big hit here.

Friday, June 26, 2009


2 oz Gin (I used North Shore Distillery)
1/2 oz Lavender Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
2 sprigs Mint

Lightly muddle mint sprigs in lime juice and simple syrup to extract the oils. Add gin and ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a mint leaf and a lavender stalk.

On Wednesday, I was weeding in the side garden and noticed how the lavender was in bloom. The idea for making a lavender simple syrup had been in the back of my head for a while, and the time seemed right. The syrup idea had been suggested to me after I attempted a lavender-vodka infusion two years ago and the end product was a bit too bitter to drink. After a little research on how much lavender I would need, I returned with a bowl and a pair of scissors and began harvesting. Making a hybrid of a few online recipes, I did the following in my kitchen:
• 1/4 cup Lavender Flowers (stripped from stalk)
• 1 cup Sugar
• 1 cup Water
Add ingredients to a pot. Heat while stirring with a spoon until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let sit for 2 hours. Strain into a bottle or other container, and store in the refrigerator. Unopened purple flower buds are optimal since they have the most flavor, although opened flowers and dried lavender can be used.
While the syrup was steeping on the stove, I began to search for ideas that used simple syrup, gin, and some sort of citrus which seemed like a good first direction. Upon seeing the recipe for the Southside, a light bulb lit up over my head. With all the lavender and its symbolism, this version of the Southside could easily be renamed the Southend -- the neighborhood in Boston filled with elegant Victorian brick row houses and great restaurants as well as being the center of our city's vibrant gay community.
Upon tasting the Southend, Andrea's first reaction was "Mmm... wow, that's a damn fine drink!" The lavender worked to bring out some interesting vegetal notes in the gin and mint and developed some flavors reminiscent of green Chartreuse. The drink had a good gin signature, and with the sweetness level, there was not as sharp of a juniper note. Overall, it was very similar to the gin julep from the other day just with some citrus, lavender, and bitters to add complexity and cut the sweetness a bit.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

gin julep

1 tbsp Sugar
2 1/2 tbsp Water
3-4 sprigs Mint
3 oz Gin (Boomsma Jonge Genever)

Add sugar and water, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add mint and lightly muddle to extract the oils. Strain into a julep cup (here, rocks glass) filled with crushed ice. Add gin, top off with more crushed ice, and garnish with a fresh mint sprig. Add drinking straw.
After thinking about the gulab sharbat cocktail that I had at Rendezvous, I remembered how the modern julep was derived from this Middle Eastern concept. While gulabs are made with water and rose petals, as the drink migrated to other parts of the world, more indigenous aromatic plants such as mint were used. And with the changing of botanicals, the Persian word gulab was converted into the French word julep. According to David Wondrich in Imbibe!, the first mention of an alcoholic mint julep in America was in 1802 in a letter from a William and Mary student who thought his fellow classmates indulged in them with excess. Jerry Thomas' The Bartender's Guide provides several recipes for juleps and the one that caught my eye on Monday night was the gin julep. In Jerry Thomas' day, the gin julep would have had Holland gin in it (first noted in 1828) which I interpreted as a Genever style and used our bottle of Boomsma's Jonge Genever accordingly. The mint for the drinks was harvested from the migratory mint colony that has sprung up twelve feet or so from the original mint patch.

The drink as one would expect was quite refreshing. The Genever gin added an interesting funkiness to the drink with its juniper-maltiness and slight harshness (relative to bourbon). Indeed, the gin-based julep is a very different creature from the more traditional bourbon one in some ways, but the sugar, ice, mint, and ritual do link the two together.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

floor polish cocktail

1/2 oz Gin (No. 209)
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last night I made one of the odd ball named-cocktails from Trader Vic's 1948 edition of Bartender's Guide -- the Floor Polish Cocktail. The name ranks up there with the Three-Legged Monkey and the Monkey Gland for strangeness, and thus similarly attracted me to the recipe. When I hear the name, I immediately think of something very alcoholic akin to an organic chemistry solvent capable of cleaning up the gunkiest of messes. However, this cocktail is rather light on the booze in comparison to most drinks. On the sip, the pineapple flavor is rather dry and it turns very vermouthy on the swallow. The drink is very much like a perfect Algonquin made with gin instead of whiskey. The recipe I later found on CocktailDB is more modern in size with everything doubled in proportion.

tequila rhubarb tonic

2 oz Lunazul Tequila
2 oz Rhubarb Syrup(*)
1 pinch Salt

Add to a highball glass with ice. Fill with club soda, garnish with a long lemon twist, and add straw.

For my other drink at Rendezvous, Scott Holliday mixed me something with another one of the syrups he recently had created, a rhubarb one. The tall drink featured tequila which worked surprisingly well with the rhubarb. The lemon oil nose on the drink was a nice touch for it complemented both the rhubarb and tequila flavors. Scott said that the pinch of salt helps to make the drink more rhubarby as well as tequila-y. Moreover, the rhubarb syrup seemed to soften some of the sharpness I associate with tequila and made this refreshing drink very easy to quaff.

(*) While I am not sure of Rendezvous' recipe, I posted the one I cook up at home here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

gulab sharbat sour

1 3/4 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz Gulab Sharbat Syrup (housemade)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with dried rose petals.

Last night, Andrea and I went to Rendezvous in Central Square for dinner and drinks. For my first cocktail, I asked Scott Holliday what he had been tinkering with lately that he might like to share. He said that he had been playing with a few syrups and the one he went with first was a North Indian one called Gulab Sharbat. Gulab Sharbat is rose-flavored syrup (or beverage) and the one he made also contained lemon juice and zest, cardamom, and sugar besides the rose. One recipe I found online for Gulab Sharbat syrup is as follows (and I believe rose syrup can be found in Indian spice stores):
• 10 oz water
• 2 cups sugar
• 1/4 tsp green cardamom seeds
• 1 oz lime juice
• 1 oz pomegranate juice
• 2 cups rose petals (fresh preferred)
Heat water and sugar in a pot until dissolved. Added juices and crushed cardamom seeds; bring to a boil. Crush rose petals and add to pot. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 12 hours. Strain and store in the refrigerator. (Note: 1 oz of 80 proof vodka per pint will help to stabilize the syrup for longer term storage.)
The end product of Scott's work was rather stunning. The drink was rather rosy with the right level of sweetness to balance the lemon juice. Andrea commented that it was "sort of like super-gin... like I wish gin actually tasted!" Indeed, the rose worked well with the juniper and other notes in the Beefeater quite well. Perhaps this should not be all that surprising since some gins, such as Hendricks, use rose petals in their distillation head to flavor their product; however, I had never had rose flavors like this with gin in a cocktail. While the drink Scott served me was a work-in-progress, I hope this delightful cocktail makes it on to Rendezvous' summer menu soon!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

alto cucina

1 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1 oz Dry Vermouth Noilly Prat
1/2 oz St. Germain Liqueur
1/2 oz Cynar

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass Garnish with an orange twist.

Shortly after receiving the May/June issue of Imbibe Magazine, Andrea picked out a recipe from the article on Cynar and made the Alto Cucina. Cynar is an Italian bitter liqueur in which one of the major ingredients is a very curious one, namely artichokes, and makes for a great cocktail ingredient. The Alto Cucina was created by Stephen Shellenberger of Dante in Cambridge, MA. True to Stephen's description, Cynar's bitter-sweet notes mix with the bright floral notes of St. Germain and both work with scotch. Dante's version uses Balvenie 15; however, due to our meager and lowbrow collection of scotches, we went with the one bottle we own, Famous Grouse. A single malt scotch would certainly add more depth to the drink than a blended scotch, like Famous Grouse, where the flavor is diluted with grain neutral spirits.


2 1/4 oz Bourbon (Eagle Rare)
1/4 oz Amaretto
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Curaçao

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

On Friday night, it was time for cocktails and Andrea wanted something more modern. Thus, we began to flip through Robert Hess' The Essential Bartender's Guide and Andrea picked out the Chas. The drink was created by Murray Stenson in Seattle's Zig Zag Café. One night, Charles, one of the patrons, challenged Murray to create a new drink, and with the knowledge that Charles was a big bourbon fan, the Chas was the end result. The spicy bourbon and Benedictine appeared on the front of the sip followed by the amaretto taste lingering at the end. The Cointreau and curaçao were not as evident as an orangeness but contributed to the whole rich gestalt of the drink and they certainly donated some sweetness to it. We were out of oranges so we skipped the garnish, but the twist or perhaps a dash of orange bitters would have brought these citrus notes more to the forefront.

As a postnote, I found a Gary Regan article in Sfgate about Stenson and the Chas. Apparently, Charles never liked to have the same drink twice (which I can understand especially since it would make for a slow blog if all I did was have Vieux Carrés or other across town) so Stenson must have been used to these improv drink requests.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


3/4 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Sunday night I was flipping through the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book and found the curious recipe for the Woxum. Besides serving to finish off our old bottle of yellow Chartreuse so we could replace the spot with the new one, the recipe entry had the following intriguing description, "Some think it is aboriginally American, and ascribe it to a 'bunch of Indians,' so called, who occasionally made whoopee--or, as it was said at that time, 'raised hell'--in the Old Waldorf Bar when they could get away with it." A quick web search for Woxum pulled up no references to Indians of any sort, save for the description in the book transcribed online elsewhere. In the cocktail itself, the richness of the apple brandy meets the sweet spiciness and complexity of the vermouth and Chartreuse. To add to the drink, I rimmed the glass and garnished with a small sage leaf from our garden. The sage odor brought out some more vegetal notes in the Chartreuse and worked rather well with the apple brandy. CocktailDB has an entry for the Woxum Cocktail which is similar in ingredients but different in proportions (1 1/2 oz apple brandy, 1/2 oz each of sweet vermouth and yellow Chartreuse) which might serve to be a drier variant to this one.

Monday, June 15, 2009

naughty nanny

3/4 oz. gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. pear liqueur (Rothman and Winter Orchard Pear)
1/2 oz. yellow chartreuse
1/4 oz. ginger simple syrup

Shake and decant into a round-bottomed cocktail glass. Garnish with a nice slice of fresh ginger.
For this month's Mixology Monday, the RumDood chose a theme of ginger, and I started by thinking about some of my favorite desserts. This brought to mind the common (and delicious) pairing of ginger and pear. Free association got the better of me, and from pear, I began to think about pear-shaped women. This led, inevitably, to a song recollection from my tween-hood in the late 70's: namely, the very first record that I ever owned. That record was entitled Jazz, and the group who put out this fine album was known as Queen. The song was, of course, Fat-bottomed Girls. As tempting as it was to name my cocktail after the song (making an excruciating pun of the "XL" in this MxMo's title), I decided to take a look at the lyrics to find a (slightly) more decorous name. Big fat Fanny? No, that wouldn't do... But the next line, that was promising. And so the Naughty Nanny was born.

So, I had a name and two of the components; but what base spirit? "Obviously, it must be made from London dry gin," in homage to the band's beginnings. Plymouth? No, I wanted something a bit more assertive. What would my naughty nanny give her young, impressionable charge? Smacking my head, "Beefeater!"

To tie these components together, I needed a bitter component that wouldn't overwhelm the delicate ginger syrup. I combed cocktailvirgin's back catalog, and fortunately didn't have to go far. A few weeks back, Fred had visited Rendezvous, and he came up with a variation of the Last Word using pear liqueur. Scott had used Aperol as the bitter in that drink, but thought chartreuse would work quite well. I wasn't quite sure how much chartreuse to add, so I started with 1/2 oz. each of yellow chartreuse and pear liqueur. A quick sampling decided it - I kept the yellow chartreuse to 1/2 oz., and upped the pear to the full 3/4 oz. The result was rather lime-y with a complex sweetness that began with caramel and ended with the ginger. While it was actually on the sweeter side of my preferred palate, it managed to capture some of the best qualities I liked in pear-ginger desserts.

Thanks for hosting, Mr. Dood!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

ginger gamble

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Ginger" (MxMo XL), was chosen by RumDood. He gave the description as, "Find or concoct a cocktail recipe that uses ginger in one of its many forms as an ingredient. This can be muddled ginger, sliced ginger, ginger syrup, ginger beer (commercial or homemade), ginger liqueur, ginger candy, or pieces of a shredded photo of Ginger from Gilligan's Island."

This theme gave me the perfect excuse to go out and buy a curiosity I have seen on the shelves but had never had or heard anyone mixing with -- Stone's Original Green Ginger Wine. Stone's is a British recipe that dates back to 1740 which uses currant wine as a base and is spiced with ground ginger. Throughout its history it has been touted as a digestive aid, cholera protectant, and aphrodisiac, and has been used as not only a beverage but a cooking ingredient. Stone's weighs in at only 13.5% alcohol (although they sell a Reserve version at 18% that I have never seen) with a price tag of about $11. Flavor-wise, it is not as robust as say Domaine de Canton and can be drank straight. And with such a low proof, it will not be as shelf stable as the ginger liqueur; however, the price seemed right at more than 3 times cheaper.

For ginger wine recipes, I found a few on the Stone's website as well as CocktaiDB and I picked one from each. The first one we made was from the cocktail database under the ingredient "ginger wine" called the Commonweal Cocktail. The Stone's website said that their product mixes well with whiskey so I went with this recipe, for it uses blended Scotch, over some of the other recipes.
Commonweal Cocktail
• 1 oz Blended Scotch
• 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
• 1/2 oz Ginger Wine
• 1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
The Commonweal was rather smoky and winy with a citrus bite. With this proportion, the ginger taste was very faint on the swallow. Indeed ginger was a flavor component albiet a more minor one in this mix.

For our next cocktail, we went with one off the Stone's site that had a bigger swig of ginger wine in it to make a more pronounced ginger-flavored cocktail. The one we chose was a gin-based tall drink, the Gamble.
• 1 oz Gin
• 2 oz Ginger Wine
• 1 oz Lemon Juice
• 1/2 oz Gomme (or Simple) Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Float a 1/2 oz of Creme de Muir on top. Garnish with a lemon slice and two straws.
For a gin, we stuck with the British theme and chose Beefeater. Lacking Creme de Muir, we substituted Creme de Cassis. Knowing that our Creme de Cassis is rather dense, I took the gamble of trying to float the liqueur. Instead we ended up with a beautiful sink of it at the bottom. The Gamble was rather gingery. The ginger seemed to work well with the Beefeater's botanicals; in fact, it was hard to tell at times where the gin ended and the ginger began. The Cassis added a very sweet note at the bottom and either the straw height had to be adjusted or the drink had to be stirred to make the drink a bit drier. Perhaps using a claret float would have been a better choice than a dense and sweet liqueur. Overall, the Gamble was a good display of the Stone's product.

Friday, June 12, 2009

chartreuse swizzle

1 1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Falernum (Fee Brothers)

Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice.

On Tuesday night, Andrea and I were in Union Square after getting Indian food and decided to get a digestif at the Independent. There were a few new drinks on their menu, and one that caught my eye was a Chartreuse Swizzle that used the green variety as opposed to the swizzle with yellow that I had at Drink. This one was created by Marco Dionysos of Harry Denton's Starlite Room and placed first in the 2003 Bay Area Chartreuse recipe contest. I could easily see why this drink was a winner with the Chartreuse flavors working rather well with the lime juice as they similarly do in the Last Word. In a more subtle way, the pineapple juice and falernum complemented these two robust ingredients to round out the drink.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


1 oz Dry Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Calvados/Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Grenadine

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

For our Sunday night pre-dinner cocktail, I searched Patrick Gavin Duffy's The Official Mixer's Manual and found the So-So, a drink that first appears in the literature in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. When Andrea heard the recipe, she thought it would need an assertive gin so we went with Beefeater. With this gin choice, the juniper notes delightfully hit a certain fruitiness that came from a combination of the sweet vermouth, apple brandy, and grenadine. The gin's botanicals were surprisingly rather apparent in this drink and the gin choice seemed to be affect the drink more so here than in many recipes. Overall, the So-So was pretty rich and complex enough to make for a good aperitif cocktail.


1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Basil Hayden)
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
1 dash Simple Syrup

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Last Thursday night, Andrea wanted a drink to enjoy on our deck so I started flipping through Robert Hess' The Essential Bartender's Guide. One that stood out that night was a recipe created by Jamie Boudreau for Vessel in Seattle, Washington. The Morris Cocktail proved to be very orangy due to combination of the bitters, vermouth, Lillet, and oils from the twist contributing to the complex orangeness. The Bourbon provided a fullness of flavor and some heat on the swallow to balance out the citrus and other botanical notes in the mix. One interesting Morris variant I have seen on the web substitutes Amaro Nonino (or other orange-based amaro) for the sweet vermouth.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

sour cherry smash

4 Fresh Cherries, de-pitted (Rainier Cherries)
1/2 Lemon, cut into wedges
3/8 oz Ginger Simple Syrup
2 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
2 dash Aromatic Bitters (Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters)

De-stem and de-pit the cherries. Muddle cherries and lemon in a mixing glass. Add mint and lightly muddle. Add apple brandy, simple syrup, bitters, and ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice cubes or crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Andrea had bought a bag of yellow cherries this week and last night seemed like the perfect evening to make a smash and drink it on the deck. For a base spirit, the Laird's Bonded we bought last week seemed like the perfect fruity match for the cherries and lemon. The ginger syrup seemed to go rather well with the lemon, and the drink had a delightful tart cherry taste on the swallow. Andrea debated me on whether or not a 1/2 oz of Benedictine Liqueur would have improved the drink; while we left it out, it might make for a good variant next time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


1/2 oz Angostura Bitters
1/2 oz Demerara Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
1 3/4 oz Rittenhouse Rye

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

For my second cocktail at Drink, I wanted John Gertsen to make me the cocktail he had just made for our friend Tyrone who was to our right. Tyrone requested a Copenhagen-like drink; however, since Drink does not have a bottle Gamel Dansk bitter liqueur, John made him their flavor-approximation substitution. It was a drink that he had been working on with Ben Sandrof that, like the Don's Little Bitter and the Trinidad Sour, had an extreme amount of "non-potable" bitters in them (and once again proved that Angostura and others can indeed be "potable" bitters). The drink was a lot spicier from the rye than the Trinidad Sour was but had the same delicious cherry flavor from the cherry wood in the Angostura bitters. This cherry note went rather well with the apricot liqueur, and the slug of Angostura seemed to be serve an analogous role to the Gamel Dansk in the Copenhagen. John did not have an idea for the name and wanted some suggestions. I started thinking about Denmark and wondered about some sort of Hamlet connection. The best I can come up with now is the Helsingør (a/k/a Elsinore in English) which is the city in Denmark where Hamlet was set. Perhaps John and Ben will approve. The proportions of the drink have not been finalized yet, so the recipe above may only represents the ones John was making last night.

cabana cachaca

Last night at Drink, our neighbor overheard me talking to John Gertsen about some cocktail bitters and infusion ideas. And he later introduced himself as Matti Anttila, founder of Cabana Cachaça. We were curious to hear more about his distillery's process after reading a thread on Chow about the great differences between cachaças themselves and between cachaça and other sugarcane-based spirits such as rums and rhum agricoles. One difference between cachaça and rum is that the former generally uses native Brazilian woods instead of oak for their casks. When I inquired about his aging process, he replied that the liquor is stored in jequitibá wood barrels for 6 months. Soon after, we asked if Matti had a bottle with him, which he did, and he was more than willing to provide a sample for Andrea and I. While neither one of us are experienced cachaça tasters as we are for say gin, it was easy to detect some differences from the other cachaças we have tasted.
His company's cachaça was very smooth without the harshness of some cachaças which Matti attributed to their double pot stilling process instead of column stills. While it was smoother, it was not devoid of flavor. The liquor was sweeter than I remember cachaça tasting and Andrea picked up on some clove and honey notes. She also commented that it was sort of like the sugarcane version bourbon due to the sweeter and marshmallowy flavors she associates with the whiskey. While it would have been good to have a side-by-side comparison of a few cachaças, it was great to taste Cabana and to have such a fortuitous meet-up. Less accidental tastings and meetings can be had at Tales of the Cocktail next month where Matti and the rest of the Cabana crew will be sponsoring and participating in several events. Also, Cabana is not yet available here in Massachusetts but soon will be.


2 oz Matusalem Platino Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 Egg White

Shake once without and once with ice. Strain into a rocks glass and drop Angostura bitters on top (double plus pattern as shown in the photo).

Last night Andrea and I went to Drink. When John Gertsen came by to take our order, I asked him what he had been making lately that excited him. He said that he was working on some drinks to take to the Edison in Los Angeles where he soon will be a guest bartender. The drink he sold me on was a white Mai Tai variant; his version had some egg white which transformed it in the direction of a Pisco Sour. Since Mai Tai in Tahitian means "the best" or "out of this world", Gertsen decided to take it one step further with a page from the 1984 Newspeak Dictionary and called his version the Doubleplusgood.
John's recipe, besides the egg white, also used the richness of Cointreau instead of curacao or triple sec and he skipped the falernum and grenadine found in many Mai Tai recipes. The white rum gave a lighter flavor profile than the darker rums that go into most Mai Tai recipes. The Angostura functioned more as an aroma garnish than as an ingredient proper, and surprisingly the two pluses stayed intact until the bitter end.

My only criticism is that if he is taking this drink to the Edison, the first building in Los Angeles to generate its own electricity almost a century ago, Oneplusonenegative might fit the building's history better. Science-geeking aside, the Doubleplusgood was quite a rich and flavorful drink.

Monday, June 1, 2009

final rhuse

3/4 oz Pisco (Don Cesar)
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
3/4 oz Rhubarb Syrup (*)
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. (*) Rhubarb syrup recipe can be found on this post.

After the rum juleps last night, we were trying to figure out what to do with the extra lime juice. After flipping through a few books, nothing popped out immediately as a good follow-up, so I decided to tinker with an idea I had. I altered the Last Word by swapping pisco for the gin, yellow for green Chartreuse, and rhubarb syrup for the Maraschino liqueur. And pardon my pun on the naming of the Final R(h)use.

Andrea immediately seemed pleased with the drink and found it a rather pleasant summery drink. The pisco donated a tasty level of smokiness and some vanilla notes to the mix which complemented the rhubarb. Moreover, the lime and yellow Chartreuse seemed to work well with the two other ingredients to make for a slightly complex and balanced drink.

rum julep

1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Honey Mix (half water-half honey)
1/2 oz Jamaican Rum (Appleton 12 Year)
1 1/2 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 12 Year)
1/4 tsp Grenadine
1/4 tsp Falernum (Velvet)
1/4 tsp Pimento Liqueur (St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Blend with ice and pour into a julep cup. Add more crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig. Here, we shook with ice and strained into a glass filled with crushed ice instead of blending.

Last night, Andrea wanted to try out two of our new rums so she grabbed Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari and started flipping through the pages until she found the Rum Julep. Unlike most modern juleps, there is no muddled mint in the drink but only some mint as garnish. The recipe was created by Donn the Beachcomber around 1940 and served at his Cabaret Restaurant. The drink was certainly refreshing although would become more noteworthy if the falernum and allspice dram were upped from a 1/4 tsp to a 1/4 oz (or more) as they are in the very similar Three Dots and a Dash cocktail.